With time drawing short in the 2019 session, there is more bluster than usual in the halls of the State Capitol. One threat that is heard too often, and quite prematurely, is that of a teacher strike if lawmakers fumble the ball on the proposed raises for teachers and other school workers.
Although it’s late in the session, there’s no clear sign that raises are in danger.
For one thing, it’s an election year, and raises are more popular with legislators facing a ballot box than at other times. But there is also no question that the state House’s conservative leadership is trying to play games with the process, promising an election-year raise that would not become part of the permanent salary schedule.
In the real world, that’s a bonus, not a raise. Teachers would be right to be upset if that idea becomes law.
Right now, it’s not at all certain that the House’s proposal will be the last word.
The key details of a teacher pay raise remained unresolved Tuesday with nine days left in the session, sparking questions on whether a controv…
The Senate has been from the first allied with Gov. John Bel Edwards for a raise, an honest raise. Under the leadership of Blade Morrish, R-Jennings, the Senate Education Committee early on challenged the House to do the right thing.
Morrish has also pushed to reverse the House decision on increasing, modestly, the joint state-local program that funds local schools, called the Minimum Foundation Program.
That’s an issue that was a hard sell in the House, because school boards — whether of traditional schools, or of public charters — are not as politically sympathetic a cause. But it makes good business sense, as the governor originally proposed, to fund the systems that support educators’ day-to-day expenses.
Quite often in politics, those who say that government should act like a business don’t follow their own advice. In the private sector, money like the MFP addition would be seen as an essential component of new staff or raises.
If nothing else, John Bel Edwards is a man of the system.
But teacher pay remains the fundamental matter, because if the raises aren’t permanent, they can’t be called raises.
Obviously, $1,000 more for a teacher does not pave a path of gold. Just as obviously, local taxes should also be part of the financing of schools, including raises. A smart plan, like that just approved by Jefferson Parish voters, puts more money into the pockets of teachers going to hard-to-staff schools.
But even with such local raises, the state has a role to play in keeping teacher compensation competitive. We agree with the governor and the Senate leaders who want to make this raise a real one, and not a short-term political expedient in an election year.